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'Tis a Pity He's a Boor

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Must the public square be so sordid?

The political circus over government-mandated health insurance coverage of contraceptives burst out of the Big Top last week, when Rush Limbaugh called 30-year old, third-year Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a “slut.”

Ms. Fluke had testified before Congress that the young women she knew “have suffered financially, emotionally and medically because of this lack of coverage.” She also pointed out that the cost of paying for contraceptives throughout all of law school could run more than $3,000.

Mr. Limbaugh jumped on her testimony. He charged that Fluke “essentially says that she must be paid to have sex. . . . It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”

Rush was rude, a full-fledged undeniable cad. And as if to leave no doubt, he went on to bellow: “If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

No, thanks.

Democrats have now rushed (no pun intended) to attack Republicans as chauvinist pigs intent on waging a “War on Woman,” to turn the tables on the Republican mantra of recent weeks that Obama and the Democrats are waging a “War on Religion.”

Official Washington loves wars. In bipartisan fashion. Wars are distracting.

And we haven’t had a good sex war in years!

Flukes’s sudden celebrity comes from being supposedly denied a chance to testify by Republicans holding a hearing on contraception with an all-male panel. Instead, the whole controversy appears to be a contrived political ploy by Democrats, with the usual mainstream media collaboration.

The hearing was on religious views on contraception, featuring religious leaders. Democrats were able to propose one of the panelists and nominated both a male person, Rev. Barry Lynn, and Sandra Fluke. Republicans chose Lynn, Fluke not being a religious leader. In the Washington Examiner, Byron York quotes a source claiming that Democrats “told Rev. Lynn not to show up the next day.” The next day one or two Democrats (one may have merely been leaving to attend another event) walked out of the hearing, incredulous that there were no women panelists.

Thus began the brouhaha about a “War on Women.”

Buried beneath his nastiness, Rush had a point: Ms. Fluke does want the government — and all health insurance consumers — to pick up the tab for her contraceptives. And as everyone knows, contraceptives have something to do with sex. (Oh, my!)

Denouncing Georgetown University’s unwillingness — as a Catholic institution, remember — to provide contraceptive health coverage, Fluke announced to a forum of congressional Democrats, “We refuse to pick between a quality education and our health. And we resent that in the 21st century anyone thinks it’s acceptable to ask us to make this choice simply because we’re women.”

Sorry, life is choices — and the more freedom, the more choices must be made. Because in addition to Fluke’s freedom and the freedom of other women (and men), the people freely associating to run Georgetown University have freedom, too.

Of course, Fluke states her case in terms of freedom versus tyranny: “When you let university administrators or other employers, rather than women and their doctors dictate whose medical needs are legitimate and whose are not, a woman’s health takes a back seat to a bureaucracy focused on policing her body.”

But in reality, Georgetown cannot and does not prevent Ms. Fluke from pursuing any medical needs she and her doctor deem legitimate. Georgetown simply doesn’t facilitate her coverage for contraceptive use. And she wants them to.

One moment, Fluke is worried about the freedom to have it her way, the next moment she calls for President Obama to take away the freedom of Georgetown University by forcing the school to provide the insurance coverage she desires.

Freedom gives both Georgetown University and Sandra Fluke the right to make choices. It doesn’t give either party the right to force the other to make choices contrary to conscience, interest, or even whim.

The issue isn’t about contraceptives, but the right to choose . . . on your own nickel.

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